What is Leaky Gut?
The digestive system can be thought of as a long tube through the body that begins in the mouth and ends at the anus. All of the organs and glands of this system work together tot take the foods that come into the body and convert them into useable nutrients that can be utilized by all the cells, tissues, and organs.
In the mouth, the teeth tear and grind the food and mix it with saliva before it is swallowed. The food then travels down the esophagus into the stomach. The food may stay in the stomach for up to an hour and a half where it will begin a digestive process through the action of its own inherent enzymes.
As the food moves through the lower portion of the stomach it is mixed with the highly acidic gastric juices which neutralize any enzymes it contains. The food is liquefied before passing through the pyloric sphincter into the small intestine.
The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes and the liver produces bile. The enzymes and bile are released into the intestine to assist with the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Most of the nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine. This organ is approximately 6 meters long with a surface area about the size of a tennis court.
This large surface area is created by folds of the intestines as well as villi and microvilli that cover the intestinal surface. The villi are covered with countless epithelial cells which, along with protective secretions form a tight barrier between the contents of the intestine and the blood stream.
The intestinal wall has been specifically designed to be selective to what is allowed to cross into the blood stream. This barrier has been put in place to protect the body from foreign invaders.
By the time the food passes into the large intestine, most of the nutrients have been absorbed. The remaining mass consists of dietary fiber and water.
Foods should pass through the entire digestive system in 12-24 hours after ingestion. Bowel movements should occur 2-3 times a day.
A properly functioning GI tract:
- absorbs small food particles to be converted to energy
- carries nutrients like vitamins and minerals attached to the carrier proteins across the gut into the bloodstream
- detoxifies the major toxins that have entered the body
- contains immunoglobulin or antibodies that act as the first line of defense against infections
Leaky Gut Syndrome refers to a condition of the intestinal wall. The tissue has been weakened and larger food particles and toxins are allowed to cross the intestinal barrier. This can lead to many health problems.
Special Points of Interest
- Most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine
- The intestinal wall has been specifically designed to be selective to what is allowed to cross into the blood stream
- Leaky Gut is a condition where the intestinal tissue has become weakened and larger food particles and toxins are allowed to cross the barrier